I chickened out and couldn't give him juice drops when he was two months old like his Montessori guide recommended because of his dairy sensitivity and the pediatrician's recommendation to not give him anything before four months.
Around three months, Henry started watching us eat with so much focus and attention. At four months, he started grabbing our water glasses and bringing them to his mouth. We finally couldn't resist it anymore and decided to start following his lead. He took to it right away. He loves eating anything (rice cereal, avocado, sweet potatoes, banana) and he enjoys drinking out of his glass.
I ordered a "first table" for him from the Michael Olaf company. It was expensive, but I decided to invest in it for several reasons. It's heavier than a normal table to provide extra stability for the child who is just learning to sit. Further, it's the perfect height for the small child. Finally, I hope to use all of Henry's Montessori materials for a family resource room when I open a public, Montessori charter school in Austin, so I'm fine spending extra money to get authentic materials. I do believe you could easily get a table (like at IKEA), cut it down to size, and attach something to the underside to make it heavier. According to Henry's AMI-certified Montessori guide, the table is supposed to be 20"x20" and 13.5" high, for those of you who want to chop a cheaper one down to size.
We opted not to order the matching chair because Henry's Montessori guide (who also has a penchant for mid-century modern design) said we could opt for a booster chair from the 1950s/60s, so I ordered one from Ebay. I got the stool for free from our favorite antique store (she gave it to us as a "new baby" present).
Right now there's a plant on the table, while I keep looking for a simple bud vase instead. And the pine cone is there because I take it out of Henry's Discovery Basket when I'm not supervising him vigilantly. The wall art is a clipping from our Charlie Harper book inside an IKEA frame.
In a Montessori environment, children who are able to sit independently begin eating their meals at their own table, while the adult sits on a small stool. Child-sized materials help children develop their independence, confidence, and their sense of self.
Children use real glasses instead of sippy cups. I got Henry's glasses from Ross in a box of eight, but IKEA also sells them. Children who use real glass learn to develop care. If they throw the glass across the room, it will break. I use a small pitcher to pour a tiny bit of water into Henry's glass (no more than I'm comfortable with him spilling). Although I hold the cup and help tilt it to the right angle, Henry is mastering how to put his hands on the cup and swallow without spilling.
We also use child-sized silverware that looks just like adult silverware, only smaller. We don't use plastic silverware or spoons with plastic-coated tips.
Children sit at their small table for their meals when they are eating at different times from the rest of the family. Then they sit in a high chair (without a tray), pulled right up to the table, that they can climb into themselves (eventually) to socialize with the family while the rest of the family eats.
So far, I am absolutely loving the Montessori approach to weaning. It felt so natural to give him food because he was so interested in it. He really seems to enjoy sitting at his table, and he loves everything we offer him. So far, nothing has been a struggle. He has taken to using a real glass very easily. The work that we put into preparing the environment and helping Henry cultivate his independence feels very worth it.
If you want to read more about weaning, check out one of my favorite Montessori blogs or information from Michael Olaf.
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